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Thumb position strength - exercises?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by SirFunk, Aug 3, 2005.

  1. SirFunk


    May 24, 2001
    Lincoln, NE
    Does anyone know any good exercises to work finger strenth in thumb position... Seems to use slightly different muscles than lower positions.

    I've been having lots of trouble keeping fast passages clean (like the 18th or so measure of Dragonetti, first movement, with the slur'd 16th notes in thumb position crossing G-D-A strings)

  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    My .02c, which may be worth less than that since I'm not an arco player:

    I try to think of each finger as being an extension of the entire arm, which is an extension of the shoulder and back. For me, this means that rather than thinking of pressing down the string with the fingers and thumb, I think of stopping the notes by rotating the shoulder (through the elbow and wrist, of course). It's amazing how much power and speed the big muscle groups can generate with a tiny motion when the hand stays in a relatively fixed position. The arm weight does the work, and all the hand has to do is space the fingers rather than space and press down.

    If this comment was too elementary, my apologies.
  3. Savino


    Jun 2, 2004
    Whenever I have difficulty with a passage, I isolate my left hand and play the passage w/o my right hand. Try to pronounce each note (like tapping on e. bass) as cleanly as possible in time. If you master it this way, adding your right hand we be cake.
  4. Check out the height you have your bass at too. I suffered for many years under the delusion that in order to make thumb position accessible, you must have your endpin set relatively high. A couple of years ago a lightbulb went off and I lowered it a notch and found that I could use the weight of my arm more effectively as Chris described and still have ample access to the snow-capped regions.

    Another thing that helped me was changing the way I hold the bass. Instead of leaning it into my body, I starting holding the bass more vertically. This way, I could easily lean the bass slightly forward for thumb position, allowing the weight of the bass itself to push the string into my fingers rather than using the muscles and weight of my arm to push the string down to the fingerboard.

    Don't know if that makes sense, but it works for me.
  5. SirFunk


    May 24, 2001
    Lincoln, NE
    Thanks for the info guys.. they all sound like good ideas.. i'm about to go practice now.. so i'll try it out soon :)
  6. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York
    Buy the Petracchi Simplified Higher Technique. It will do the job.
  7. I heard that Michael Moore wrote a T.P. book, which pertains more to jazz. Anyone ever seen it?
  8. Yeah - it was reccomended to me by a bass teacher at a university. It's focus is melodic soloing in TP and to that end reccomends focussing on the note under (I think) your second finger giving you the freedom to play ideas above and below that note.

    I looked through it and it didn't appeal to me at all. It might work but I'd rather work on the ability to play my conception or any written part than possiblities generated by a formulaic approach.

    Not to be dismissed though - I mighthave been too hasty. Savino has had lessons with MM I remember. Wonder if he has a view?
  9. Anon2962


    Aug 4, 2004
    I'd also vote for Petracchi. Not sure about having the bass more vertical, as may negatively affect the bow arm. I also wouldn't recommend changing the angle of the bass for thumb position - what if you have a passage that requires you to to go into and out of thumb pos repeatedly?